Wednesday, October 24, 2012

DIY Mermaid Costume: Mermaid Tail, Part 1

This year E decided that she would like to be a mermaid for Halloween...and then of course, L followed suit and wants to match her sister...and then their sweet cousin wanted to match them too! After checking out mermaid costumes in the stores and online, I just wasn't really impressed with the choices. So, I thought that I'd try to make something myself. So far, so good.

If you've "liked" Life with L and E on Facebook, you might have heard that I was successful in creating a Mermaid Tail Skirt! I promised a tutorial, but it has taken me a bit longer to get this post together than I would have liked. Sorry! I had a bit of a machine failure so my project got derailed. But, now I've borrowed my sister-in-law's machine and I'm back on track.

This Mermaid Tail consists of a main skirt that comes to a point in the front and the back. Then, a "fin" is added to the bottom. (I'll go over how to make the fin in a separate tutorial.) I'm not giving exact measurements because your costume doesn't need to be the same size as mine. However, I'll do my best to explain how to take your own measurements for your custom skirt. For fabric, I used costume satin that I found on sale at Joann's for $2/yard. Because costume satin has a horrible tendency to fray, I used pinking shears to cut out the fabric and minimize fraying. It makes it a bit easier to work with too.

How to Make Mermaid Tail Skirt:

  • measuring tape
  • teal glitter costume satin
  • pinking shears
  • iron & ironing board
  • matching thread
  • 3/4" wide elastic
  • straight pins
  • sewing machine

Take your measurements.
You'll need to know three measurements -- waist, distance from waist to knee, and the distance from waist to where you want your skirt to end. (I chose right above the feet.)
  • E's Measurements: 20" waist, 15" to knee, 25" to feet
Determine the size of your main skirt pieces.
You'll need two identical pieces to form the tail-shaped skirt. The tail is essentially a straight skirt to the knee that then tapers to a point in the front and the back.
  • Width of each piece: Take 75% of your waist measurement and then add 1" for the seam allowances. (My skirt: 0.75 x 20 = 15; 15 + 1 = 16 inches wide)
  • Length to point: Use the measurement to the feet. Part of this length will be used up by the waistband, but you'll be adding a "fin" that will give the finished tail extra length.
Cut the pieces for your skirt.
Iron the teal fabric. Cut two pieces that are the width and length as described above. (My skirt pieces began as two 16 x 25 inch rectangles.) Stack the two rectangles, and fold them in half lengthwise. Pin to keep them from shifting.

Measure from the top of the fabric down to your knee measurement. Draw a diagonal line from this knee measurement on the cut-side edge, to the bottom of the fabric at the folded edge. While keeping the fabric folded, pin along the line to keep the fabric from shifting. Then, cut along this line to make the point of the tail. Do this to both skirt pieces.

Sew your skirt.
Finish the bottom edges (the pointed tail part) by ironing the edge under by about 1/4 inch and then folding over again. Use straight pins to secure. Use the sewing machine to stitch down. Do this on both skirt pieces.

Place the two skirt pieces with right sides together and pin together along the sides. Stitch up the sides.

Add the waistband.
Baste the flaps from the side seams down so they don't get in your way while you create the waistband. Fold down the top by about 1 1/4 inches. Fold the bottom of that under by about 1/4 inch and pin securely. To create the casing for the elastic, stitch the 1/4 inch fold down almost all the way around  -- leave about a 2-inch opening.

Cut the elastic to your waist measurement. Attach a safety pin to one end of the elastic, and then thread it through the casing using the safety pin to help you pull it through. Pin the two ends of the elastic on and try on the skirt. Adjust the overlap of the elastic to tighten or loosen as necessary. Repin the elastic ends where it should be attached together, and then stitch them together to secure. Slip the elastic ends back into the casing, fold the bottom of the opening under, and stitch closed.

Turn the skirt right-side out. Ta da! The basic form of your mermaid tail is complete.

Go here to find Part 2 of the Mermaid Tail Skirt tutorial.

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